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Archive for July, 2017

You’ll Never Know Dear: A Novel of Suspense by Hallie Ephron

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

You'll Never Know DearLissie and Janey Woodham were playing house with their dolls in their yard when a puppy showed up. Lissie who desperately wanted a puppy followed the dog into the woods trying to catch it hoping she would be allowed to keep it. When she gave up the chase and returned to the yard, she assumed Janey had tired of waiting for her and gone inside. By the time the family realized Janey was missing, valuable time had been lost and Janey was gone. Because the girls were playing with their custom made portrait dolls and Janey’s doll went missing with her, her mom, known to all as Miss Sorrel placed an ad in the paper each year for a reward leading to the return of the doll.

Fast forward forty years when Maggie Richards answers the ad with a doll that although in very bad condition might be Janey’s. From there the plot moves in a predictable direction. The woman panics and runs off leaving the doll behind, Lessie and her daughter Vanessa track down the woman and discover her mother, Jenny, could possibly be the long lost Janey. Not wanting Miss Sorrel to get her hopes up Vanessa tries to nail down Jenny’s past. There are the expected family secrets that eventually come out as well.

There are some twists along the way. An explosion damages the Sorrel house, causing both Lessie and Miss Sorrel to be hospitalized. A break in leads to the loss of the most valuable of Miss Sorrel’s doll collection including all of the remaining portrait dolls she and her neighbor Evelyn had made. Vannessa’s research on nightmares figures into the plot as well.

The characters were well developed and for the most part likable. The pace of the book is just right giving readers enough to keep them turning the pages to see what the next revelation would be and how it would fit into the puzzle. The subplot on Vanessa’s research on nightmares was quite interesting. I just wish that Ephron would have spent a little more time working on hiding the solution to the long ago crime. For me at least the “who did it” was pretty obvious fairly early in the book.

In spite of its not too well concealed solution, readers who enjoy a suspense filled book with a few interesting side plots should enjoy You’ll Never Know, Dear.

Before the Poison: A Novel by Peter Robinson

Reviewed by Jud Hanson

Before the PoisonWhen soundtrack composer Chris Lowndes buys an old house in Yorkshire Dales, he has no idea of the history of the house. He soon learns it is the former home of a prominent doctor and his wife and child during and after WW II. Grace Fox was hanged for poisoning her husband in the 1950s. The story intrigues Lowndes and he strives to learn more from local citizens who lived in Yorkshire Dales during the trial and visits to the local library. A surprise encounter with the former owner of the house who happens the be the granddaughter of Grace Fox reveals even more evidence leading Chris to conclude that perhaps Grace was innocent after all. All while trying to determine the truth about Grace, the death of Lowndes’ wife haunts him and forces him to examine his real motives for wanting to know once and for all if Grace deserved what she got. Read the rest of this entry »

The Good Daughter: A Novel by Karin Slaughter

Reviewed by Mark Moderson

The Good DaughterKarin Slaughter delivers another home run with The Good Daughter.

This fast paced mystery is a page turner that starts quickly introducing us to the Quinn family who suffer unimaginable violence. Flash forward 28 years and the family again is in the middle of violence in their hometown. You can’t help but want to root for Charlotte and Samantha Quinn as they battle back from the loss of their mother and the harm done to themselves. Read the rest of this entry »

Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles Presents LAst Resort by Matt Coyle, Mary Marks, Patricia Smiley and Michael Connelly (Introduction)

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

Last ResortSince 1997, Sisters in Crime has published anthologies of members’ crime fiction works. Each collection was well received with their newest addition, The LAst Resort as no exception. A stunningly extraordinary collection of fiction shorts, the book overall, combines elements that make for a deliciously wicked elixir of potently intriguing portrayals of lives at their last resort, near drowning, immersed in the murky waters of the underbelly of morality that thrives in Los Angeles. Read the rest of this entry »

Death at an English Wedding (Murder on Location) (Volume 7) by Sara Rosett

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

Death at an English WeddingDeath at an English Wedding finds Americans Kate and Alex, the location scouts scouting for a venue for their own wedding. Well, not really, as when the book opens they have all of the details for their wedding secured, which is good since their wedding is a mere three weeks away. For people “in the business,” it would seem logical that all would run smoothly, but family has a way of complicating things and both Alex and Kate have some doozies for family members.

The first complication surfaces when Kate picks up her mother at the airport. Always a bit flighty and unpredictable, her mother is sketchy on details as to whom the younger man is that Kate saw her with in the coffee shop. Her mom brushes the incident off as nothing but fellow passengers chatting after their flight, but Kate knowing her mother well, knows there is more to the conversation than that. It is a few chapters later before the details start to come out and, as one might expect, none if of those details are good. Read the rest of this entry »

A Shimmer of Hummingbirds: A Birder Murder Mystery by Steve Burrows

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

A Shimmer of HummingbirdsDetective Chief JeJeune is one of the most unusual protagonists I have run across in my reading. Canadian by birth, he fled Canada amid a family scandal which continues to threaten his new life in Norfolk, England. Jejuene, besides being a Detective Chief is also an avid birder giving these books an interesting twist. Though filled with birds, birding terms and bird facts, these are not the cozies one might expect. Make no mistake, the Domenic Jejuene books are police procedurals.

There are three main threads interwoven in A Shimmer of Hummingbirds. Jejuene has planned a birding trip to Colombia to capture as many of the varieties of native hummingbirds as he can for his life list. He also has every intention of doing a little nosing around to see if he can find out more about the legal problems his brother is facing. His superior is well aware JeJuene’s real purpose in the trip, but realizes that nothing she says will change his mind. So off Jejeune goes on his South American adventure while back home Norfolk life continues. Marvin Laraby, JeJuene’s former boss has been named JeJeune’s temporary replacement. The two men did not part on friendly terms so those who worked under Jejuene are at a loss as to how much to share with JeJeune when he calls in. When JeJuene hears of an apparent accident which injures Lindy, JeJuene’s love interest, he asks one of his colleagues to on the sly look into a particular criminal that he and Laraby helped put away. Lastly, a woman is found murdered in her home. All of the evidence points to the motive as something to do with an offer on a project involving drones and reforestation.

Burrows seems to have some environmental twist in some part of the plots in each of his books. This one has two. The obvious one is the need for there to be reforestation in England and the second concerns the natives of Colombia being put at risk by tourists and specifically birders. He includes some notes at the end concerning the second. Read the rest of this entry »

The Girl on the Bridge: A McCabe and Savage Thriller (McCabe and Savage Thrillers) by James Hayman

Reviewed by Vickie Daley

The Girl on the BridgeThe Girl on the Bridge is the 5th offering in the McCabe and Savage thriller series. It is certainly a stand-alone and you can feel confident that you didn’t miss anything with the other four. I would certainly give them a try.

There is a prologue that gives you background on both The Girl on The Bridge and her boyfriend who attended a frat rush party where the girl is gang raped. Hannah is talked out of pursuing prosecution of the perpetrators as she only knew two and had waited too long to come forward. Sixteen years later she commits suicide by jumping off a bridge. The main rapist and a buddy, who shows up dead, are soon the victims of the current investigation as McCabe & Savage try to find out who killed the buddy and who kidnapped Josh Thorne. Read the rest of this entry »

She Rides Shotgun: A Novel by Jordan Harper (Review #2)

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

She Rides ShotgunFrom the first sentence in Jordan Harper’s thrilling fiction debut, She Rides Shotgun, you find yourself a willing captive held fast by his audaciously gritty narrative which centers on the corrupted coming of age of young Polly McClusky, an innocent, thrust into the seamy side of life where criminal elements heartily dwell.

The day estranged dad and convict, Nate McClusky reappeared in eleven-year-old daughter Polly’s life, and it was effectively forever changed. Fresh out of jail, Nate didn’t bring candy and gifts like other fathers might do to make up for lost time; instead, he brought trouble, danger and visceral violence hot on his heels.

As a criminal for most of his life, Nate was no stranger to difficult predicaments, especially when he finds himself just before his release out of jail, faced with an irrefusable demand to work for a violent and widely powerful white supremacist organization, Aryan Steel. But, when Nate refuses with a shiv to the neck of the brother of the leader of Aryan Steel, he consequently finds himself, his ex and young daughter on a hit list. Compelled into an intense race against time and the treacherous, as well as forced to use any means necessary to ensure his and daughter Polly’s survival, he instructs his daughter in life lessons that no young girl should ever have to experience. Additionally, to further complicate matters, father and daughter are basically strangers and polar opposites causing personality clashes and breathtaking moments as the two have to learn to accept each other for the sake of their own survival. Read the rest of this entry »

Night Watch: A Novel (Kendra Michaels) by Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Night WatchI have to believe this was written mostly by Roy Johansen, the son of Iris Johansen because of all of her books that I have read she has never gone into sex as part of the story.

Click Here for More Information on Night Watch

This one begins to at one point but then, thankfully, backs off of it and goes ahead telling the story without that element. Good job!

Like some of her other books though it does border a bit on the occult or at least on things that are not truly in our element yet. This one gets into the possibility of regenerating parts of the human body. Kendra Michaels was blind from birth but had her sight restored in a special maneuver by Doctor Charles Waldridge. In growing up without sight she with the help of her mother really built her other senses to where she has remarkable talents such as memory. She also has the uncanny ability to connect things about people and their habits, abilities, and their thinking potential. She can also place where people have been by seeing things on their shoes or clothes that they may have come into contact with such as sand or pieces of grass. Her use of all her mental facilities far exceeds anyone else in the world. Read the rest of this entry »

The Himalayan Codex: An R. J. MacCready Novel by Bill Schutt and J.R. Finch

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

The himlayan CodexDo you believe in Big Foot? Even if you don’t, do you wish he existed? The search for the Yeti is the focus of The Himalayan Codex and might just be the Summer book for you.

R.J. MacCready is a zoologist and an adventurer who specializes in studying the oddities of nature, so it was a natural fit for him to be sent to Tibet to investigate the discovery of some Mammoth bones. But that wasn’t the true reason for his trip. There was an ancient document that led some to believe that there was a race of humans who were in reality the Yeti of lore.

MacCready’s job was to search for these people or at least evidence that they had in fact existed. This race supposedly held the secret to highly sought after information on human evolution. What he found was alarming. Read the rest of this entry »